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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 62 Part II, 31 March 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 62 Part II, 31 March 1998 A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's Web site: http://www.rferl.org/newsline xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIAN MEDIA EMPIRES II Businessmen, government leaders, politicians, and financial companies continue to reshape Russia's media landscape. This update of a September report identifies the players and their media holdings via charts, tables and articles. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia2/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * INDEPENDENTS SURPRISE IN UKRAINE * RUSSIA, CHINA BLOCK YUGOSLAV ARMS EMBARGO * ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS End Note: TOUGHER SANCTIONS: A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD IN YUGOSLAV CRISIS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINE'S INDEPENDENTS WIN MAJORITY OF SINGLE- MANDATE SEATS. According to the Ukrainian Central Electoral Committee, 114 independents have been elected to single-mandate seats in the parliament, AFP reported on 30 March. The committee said 37 Communists and 13 candidates from the pro-reform Popular Democratic Party have also been elected to such seats. Results for some 40 of the total 225 single-mandate seats have not yet been announced. The strong showing by independent candidates means that at least one-quarter of the parliament will be made up of deputies with no party affiliation. Many of the independent deputies are businessmen, and some analysts say they may offset the large number of Communist and other leftist deputies. PB EXIT POLL GIVES COMMUNISTS THE LEAD IN PARTY-LIST VOTE. An exit poll by the Gallup organization shows the Communist Party as having won 26 percent in the vote for party-list mandates. The nationalist Rukh party gained 11 percent support, followed by the Green Party (7 percent), the Hromada party (6 percent), and the Popular Democratic Party (5 percent). The Central Electoral Commission said the United Social Democrats, the Socialist/Peasants' Bloc, the Agrarians, and the Progressive Socialist Party may also pass the 4 percent threshold needed to enter parliament. The committee said final results may not be available until 3 April. PB COMMUNIST PARTY LEADER STILL WANTS TO ABOLISH PRESIDENCY. Petro Symonenko says he expects his party to receive 30- 35 percent backing in the party-list vote. He commented that preliminary results show that "we must cast off this ruinous [reform] course." Symonenko accused President Leonid Kuchma of "bringing Ukraine to the brink of economic collapse" and he reiterated his call to abolish the presidency. Symonenko has also strongly criticized international aid organizations, saying they treat the Ukrainian economy like a "marionette." The Communist Party, which was banned from 1991-1993, has 80 seats in the outgoing legislature and is likely to improve on that figure. PB BELARUSIAN OFFICIALS BAN PROTESTS ON UNION TREATY DAY. Minsk city officials said on 30 March that two opposition parties will not be allowed to hold demonstrations on the first anniversary of the signing of the Belarusian-Russian Union Treaty, Belapan reported. City authorities denied the Belarusian Popular Front and the Belarusian Social Democratic Party permission to stage demonstrations on 2 April, which were planned to take place in different parts of the city. City officials said the demonstrations would interfere with official festivities to take place in the city marking the signing of the treaty. PB UK'S COOK SEES NO OBSTACLE FOR TALLINN OVER RUSSIAN MINORITY. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the 30 March "Postimees" that concerns over Estonia's large Russian minority are unlikely to hinder Tallinn's progress in EU entry talks, Reuters and ETA reported. The U.K. currently holds the rotating EU presidency. "Estonia has recently taken serious steps to ease conditions to get Estonian citizenship," Cook said. He also that it is important for the EU that Estonia has followed the recommendations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. Estonia, along with 10 other applicant states, begins formal talks on EU entry in Brussels on 31 March. JC LANDSBERGIS SAYS RUSSIA WAGING COLD WAR AGAINST BALTICS. Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis told journalists on 30 March that Russia is waging a Cold War against the Baltic States and is trying to also involve the leaders of influential Western countries, BNS reported. He added that Moscow is seeking to create the impression that the Baltic States' future is "entirely dependent on Russia's will." His comment followed Russian media reports quoting Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii as saying French President Jacques Chirac had expressed opposition to Baltic membership in NATO during the recent summit outside Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 March 1998). Those reports were later denied by French diplomats. Landsbergis added that Russian accusations that Latvia and Estonia collaborated with the Nazis during World War II are also "a sign of a Cold War." JC CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER TO LEAVE POLITICS? Both Milos Zeman, the leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Party (CSSD), and President Vaclav Havel's spokesman Ladislav Spacek are refusing to "either confirm or refute" a report in the weekly "Tyden" that Zeman informed Havel last week of his intention to leave politics, CTK reported. The report comes in the wake of the so-called "Bamberg affair," in which Zeman is alleged to have offered Jan Vizek, a Swiss businessman of Czech origins, influential posts in the government in exchange for advantageous loans for his party. Zeman continues to deny the allegations. Vizek claims he wanted to help the CSSD because he disliked former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, but he says he now fears that if Zeman becomes premier, he will resort to "purges." Vizek explained that for this reason, he had published documents on the agreement he had with Zeman. MS BOEING BUYS INTO CZECH AIRCRAFT PLANT. The Czech government on 30 March approved an agreement whereby a joint venture of Boeing and the Czech national airline CSA will acquire a 34 percent share in the Aero Vodochody aircraft factory for $28.3 million. Minister without portfolio Vladimir Mlynar told journalists in Prague that Boeing will have a 90 percent share in the joint venture and that CSA will own the remaining 10 percent, CTK reported. SLOVAK PETITION DRIVE MARRED BY INCIDENT. One of the organizers of the drive to gather signatures in support of the election of Slovakia's president by popular vote was physically attacked in the town of Cada on 29 March, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. The identity of the assailant is not known. The Slovak Democratic Coalition organized the drive, which has so far collected 40,000 of the 100,000 signatures needed for the petition to be submitted to the parliament. MS HUNGARY'S YOUNG DEMOCRATS COMPLETE NATIONAL LIST. The opposition Young Democrats (FIDESZ) have completed their national list for the May general elections, Hungarian media reported on 30 March. Party chairman Viktor Orban heads the list, and Peter Tolgyessy, a former leading figure of the junior coalition party, the Free Democrats, is among the top 10 candidates. Meanwhile, Independent Smallholders' chairman Jozsef Torgyan said his party will complain to the National Election Committee because the satellite Duna TV plans to air a debate between Orban and Socialist Prime Minister Gyula Horn on the evening before the deadline for election campaigning in the media to cease. Moreover, Duna TV intends to dispatch broadcasting units only to the Socialist and FIDESZ headquarters on election day, he said. In this way, it will be supporting the idea of a Socialist-FIDESZ coalition, Torgyan concluded. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE RUSSIA, CHINA BLOCK YUGOSLAV ARMS EMBARGO. U.S. and U.K. diplomats said at the UN in New York on 30 March that Russia remains opposed to a British-sponsored resolution that would reimpose an arms embargo on President Slobodan Milosevic's federal Yugoslavia. U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson added that he is optimistic that a solution can be found: "I believe that...we are close to imposing an arms embargo on Serbia [on 31 March}. We are close to language that would accommodate both sides." Russia is Yugoslavia's main foreign arms supplier and may have recently concluded a major arms deal with Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 1998). Beijing also opposes the embargo or any international involvement in the Kosovo question, presumably because it perceives the problematic Serbia-Kosovo relationship to be similar to its own relations with Tibet. PM RUSSIA DENIES KOSOVO THREAT. Speaking at the UN in New York on 30 March, Russian Deputy Representative Yurii Fedotov said that agreement on a Security Council resolution remains a long way off. "In particular, we believe it is unfair to determine the situation in that part of the world as constituting a threat to international peace and security. It is simply not true.... [There are] much more threatening situations and hot spots in the world which represent a real threat." He added that there is currently no fighting in Kosovo and no flow of refugees. Fedotov stressed that Russia wants the resolution to more strongly condemn "support of terrorism and [providing] illegal supplies of weapons" as well as the "arming and training of terrorists." PM GELBARD SAYS SERBS HELPED UCK. U.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard said the Serbian authorities are themselves to blame for the publicity that the international media have recently given to the shadowy Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), the "Frankfurter Allgemeine" wrote on 31 March. Gelbard stressed that Serbian strategy and tactics in the province have helped draw international attention to the UCK, which was little known until recently. The Serbian authorities recently blamed several foreign radio and television stations, as well as Yugoslav stations that rebroadcast the foreign programs, for misrepresenting events in Kosovo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 March 1998). A spokesman for Deutsche Welle, which was among the stations that Belgrade criticized, dismissed the charges and added that the Yugoslav authorities have resorted to "language from the Cold War" in making their accusations, "Danas" reported. PM SERBIAN BORDER GUARDS KILL ALBANIAN CITIZEN. Yugoslav border guards near Gorozup shot dead a man from the northern Albanian village of Pogaj on 29 March. The man had already crossed the border into Albania after leaving Prizren, in Kosovo, with three other Albanians, "Koha Jone" reported. Elsewhere, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on 30 March opened a field office in the crime-ridden northern Albanian city of Bajram Curri, close to that part of Kosovo where Serbian paramilitary police launched a crackdown on 24 March. FS SESELJ AGAINST FOREIGN ROLE IN KOSOVO. The Serbian Radical Party of Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj said in a statement on 30 March that it is opposes any foreign mediation in the Kosovo dispute, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 March 1998). Also in Belgrade, Ljubisa Ristic, the head of the Yugoslav parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told visiting French legislators that "we will strongly oppose anyone, inside and outside [the country], who tries to provoke war in this Serbian province." PM CROATIA, BOSNIA SET UP COOPERATION COUNCIL. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic and his Bosnian counterpart, Jadranko Prlic, an ethnic Croat, signed an agreement in Zagreb on 30 March to institutionalize frequent, regular contacts between leaders of the two countries. Under the accord, the Croatian president and the members of the Bosnian joint presidency will meet at least twice a year. Granic and Prlic praised the agreement, but Mirza Hajric, who is Muslim presidency member Alija Izetbegovic's chief adviser, said it lacks substance, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sarajevo. PM UNIFIED RAILROAD FOR BOSNIA. Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik and his federal counterpart, Edhem Bicakcic, agreed in Doboj on 30 March to form a joint corporation that will restore a unified rail system to all of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A final agreement will be signed later this week. The prime ministers said they hope to reach similar agreements on restoring the power grid and telecommunications systems in the near future. PM OSCE SAYS BOSNIAN PARTIES MUST HAVE PROGRAMS. A spokesman for the OSCE, which will carry out the Bosnian general elections slated for 12-13 September, said in Sarajevo that all parties and independent candidates participating in the vote must submit in advance a program that states the party's or candidate's views on key issues. Such topics include refugee return, economic reconstruction, minority rights, and social issues. Parties must pay a deposit of $550, and independent candidates half that amount. Deposits will be returned to parties or candidates who are successful in the poll. Post-communist elections in the former Yugoslavia have frequently been plagued by a plethora of tiny parties that have no clear political profile and little chance of winning. PM RAIL STRIKE HITS CROATIA. Many of the 8,000 employees of Croatian Railroads staged a two-hour warning strike on 31 March all across the country. Only international trains and trains used by the military were not affected. The workers want a 20 percent increase in their wages, which currently average about $300 per month. Management says it cannot offer more than 4.6 percent. Croatia has been hit by a series of strikes since the beginning of the year, when the government introduced a 22 percent value- added tax. PM ITALY WANTS CHANGE IN ALBANIAN WEU MISSION. Unnamed diplomats told AFP in Brussels on 30 March that the Italian government wants to change the mandate of the Western European Union (WEU) police mission in Albania when it runs out in mid-April. Italy wants a larger role for its police in the 60-strong force and any renewal of the mandate to be limited to two months. Other WEU members dismissed the proposal. Unnamed non-Italian WEU police said in Tirana that they are not satisfied with the Italians' performance in putting a stop to smuggling. FS ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS. In a bitter speech broadcast live on radio and television on 30 March, Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea announced his resignation both as premier and mayor of Bucharest. He accused his former political partners of indulging in "diversionsim" and said he is convinced that their "so-called victory" will prove temporary and that "history" will judge them harshly. Ciorbea also noted that he had tried to be " a different type of premier, maybe ahead of history" and that the new cabinet will inherit the basis for a reform program that can be continued. Ciorbea thanked only his own colleagues in the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic and the ministers representing the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania for their cooperation. He made no mention of the other parties that had made up the coalition. MS CONSTANTINESCU NAMES INTERIM PREMIER. President Emil Constantinescu, who spoke on radio and television immediately after Ciorbea, refrained from thanking the former premier for his achievements in that capacity. Constantinescu said he has appointed Interior Minister Gavril Dejeu as interim premier until consultations on forming a new cabinet are concluded. He added he will announce a new head of government on 2 April following talks with the parties represented in the outgoing coalition and with the parliamentary opposition parties. Observers say the fact that Ciorbea is not to continue as premier until his successor is appointed demonstrates the rift between the two men. Under the constitution, the new premier has 10 days following his appointment to secure a vote of confidence for his cabinet in the parliament. MS U.S., ROMANIA SIGN ANTI-WEAPONS ACCORD. Outgoing Romanian Defense Minister Constantin Dudu Ionescu and U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, meeting in Washington on 30 March, signed an accord for the prevention of the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear arms, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Under the accord, which is the first of its kind that the U.S. has signed with an Eastern European country, Washington is to provide expertise, equipment, and training to Romanian border control guards to help detect such weapons and hinder their delivery from East European countries to terrorists and rogue states. Cohen said Romania remains " a strong candidate for NATO membership" if reforms are pursued. He declined, however, to say when it might be invited to join the alliance. MS ELECTION COMMISSION ANNOUNCES MAKEUP OF NEW MOLDOVAN LEGISLATURE... The Central Electoral Commission on 29 March announced that the Party of Moldovan Communists has 40 seats in the legislature elected on 22 March. The Democratic Convention of Romania has 26 mandates, the For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc (PMDP) 24, and the Party of Democratic Forces 11 mandates. The figures reflect calculations eliminating parties that failed to pass the 4 percent threshold and redistributing the votes cast for those formations among the parties that passed the threshold, BASA press reported on 30 March. MS ...WHILE COMPOSITION OF COALITION STILL UNCERTAIN. President Petru Lucinschi said in an interview with Moldovan state radio on 30 March that there are "two options" for forming a future majority coalition in the legislature and that he would accept either: a government based on an alliance between the Communists and the PMDP or one composed of the PMDP, the Democratic Convention of Moldova, and the Party of Democratic Forces. Lucinschi said any new government will have to continue pursuing market reforms and privatization and a foreign policy based on neutrality and good-neighborly relations. PMDP leader Dumitru Diacov said after meeting Lucinschi that an alliance with the Communists is possible if they make an "unambiguous pledge" to support reform. Communist leader Vladimir Voronin said his party does not want to be in the opposition, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CONTRADICTED BY ACADEMY REPORT. Nadezhda Mihailova told the 30 March meeting of foreign ministers from the EU and the 11 candidates seeking membership that her country has achieved "financial stabilization" and made "sufficient progress" to fulfill the "criteria for membership" by the year 2001, Reuters reported. But a report released in Sofia by the Academy of Sciences' Economic Institute the same day predicts that Bulgaria will be unable to meet economic conditions for EU membership before 2030 "at best," AFP reported. According to the report, Bulgaria, Russia, and Ukraine will have a GDP in 2010 equal in size to what they had in 1990. MS END NOTE TOUGHER SANCTIONS: A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD IN CURRENT YUGOSLAV CRISIS by Christopher Walker With top U.S. and European diplomats giving very different interpretations of Yugoslavia's response to the punitive measures recently proposed by the International Contact Group, a final resolution to the Kosovo crisis remains elusive. Many European officials claim that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has made significant progress in meeting the Contact Group's demands. U.S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and special Balkan envoy Robert Gelbard have indicated that Yugoslav behavior continues to be unacceptable, thus requiring consideration of more severe measures, including further economic sanctions. It is worth examining what increased economic sanctions regime might mean for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). NATO and the UN are reluctant to employ a military solution, though a debate in the U.S. continues. Russia has strongly objected to the use of force, as well as several other tough measures considered at the meetings of the Contact Group. The investigation of atrocities in Kosovo by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is a new step that has been added to pressure Milosevic. The implication to some observers is that he himself is a direct target of that probe. To demonstrate its serious intention to be involved in this effort, the U.S. government announced a $1 million contribution to help the tribunal do its work and send independent investigators to Kosovo. If the Contact Group's proposed steps--the tribunal's investigation into the Kosovo incidents, mild diplomatic and economic sanctions, and an arms embargo on Serbia--prove insufficient to change Belgrade's behavior, the Contact Group or certain member countries of that group may make use of another option: harsh economic sanctions. Economic sanctions against the FRY were first imposed in spring 1992 and lifted after the signing of the Dayton accords in September 1996. Combined with Milosevic's own economic polices, those sanctions wreaked havoc on the country's economy and pushed a majority of Serbs below the poverty line. The embargo rattled the Milosevic regime but did not dislodge it; on the contrary, a shadowy new pro-Milosevic elite emerged, whose members became rich by smuggling and profiteering. At present, there remains only an "outer wall" of sanctions, which denies FRY access to key international financial sources, such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The imposition of sanctions similar to those in place before the signing of the Dayton accords could have the dual effect of intensifying the economic misery of the average Serb, while reinvigorating conditions for black market activity. Moreover, it is unclear whether average Serbs would hold Milosevic responsible for their economic woes, despite leading officials' lining their pockets. Milosevic may be able to lay blame for domestic economic misery at the door of the West, as he did during the Croatian and Bosnian wars. More important are the longer-term implications of further sanctions. As long as sanctions are in place, the conditions in which corruption flourishes will be prolonged and the establishment of the rule of law delayed. In the case of Kosovo, the chaos, inevitable human misery, and the immense flow of refugees that would result from armed conflict in the Southern Balkans weighs heavily on the minds of European and U.S. diplomats. But if the steps proposed by the international community prove incapable of curbing Serbian behavior in Kosovo, there may be few options, short of military measures, other than tougher economic sanctions. In such a case, the long term impact of economic sanctions on FRY's democratic development will be need to be considered The international community must thus choose from various, unpalatable policy options aimed at modifying the parochialism and isolationism fostered by Milosevic over the past decade. 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